Italian 'Peace Caesar' F-16 Fighting Falcons

Between 2002 and 2004 a total of 30 General Dynamics F-16A and 4 F-16B aircraft were re-generated from AMARC as part of a lease agreement with Italy. Given the name 'Peace Caesar', the agreement, which was signed by the Italian Government on March 15, 2001, called for the lease of 34 operational aircraft for a period of five years. The agreement also included the supply of 3 additional F-16A for the provision of spare parts and re-training of F-104 and Tornado F.3 aircew and the training of the Italian maintenance technicians who would be responsible for keeping the aircraft flying. The reason for aquiring the F-16s was the significant delays being experienced with the development of the Eurofighter Typhoon, which was the type ordered to fulfill the Italian air defence role after the retirement of their Lockheed F-104 Starfighters. The F-16s were to be used as a stop-gap measure until the Typhoon could be delivered and brought up to combat readiness.

After total refurbishment at Hill Air Force Base, UT., which entailed the strengthening of the airframe and the testing, repair and upgrade of the avionic computers and equipment, the aircraft were delivered to the Italian Air Force. The three squadrons to receive the F-16s were 23° Gruppo of the 5 Stormo based at Cervia Air Base, and the 10° Gruppo and 18° Gruppo of the 37 Stormo based at Trapani-Birgi Air Base. On June 28th, 2003 the first three refurbished aircraft (F-16B MM7266, MM7268, MM7269) arrived in Italy (for the 18° Trapani-Birgi Air Base), while two other aircraft which should have been included in this first delivery were delayed due to technical problems. F-16A MM7238 suffered an engine fault and had to divert to North Bay in Canada, the other F-16A, MM7246, stayed with it to provide an escort. After MM7238 had been repaired these two aircraft finally reached Trapani on July 2nd, 2003.

 

     

The protracted delays to Typhoon development and production, much of which was due to political and financial disagreement, resulted in the lease agreement being extended for a further 5 years. It wasn't until February 20th, 2004 that the first Italian Air Force Typhoon was handed over at Cameri Air Base for initial training purposes. The Peace Caeser would carry on in the Air Defence role as the Typhoon fleet was introduced and brought up to operational strength.

On April 16th, 2010 23° Gruppo was disbanded, their F-16s were taken by the two remaining squadrons. In July 2012 10° Gruppo transitioned to the EF2000 Typhoon and moved to their new base at Gioia del Colle Air Base. On May 23rd, 2012 Gruppo 18°, the last remaining F-16 squadron of the Italian Air Force officially transitioned over to the EF2000. This event signified the retirement of the F-16 from the Italian Air Force after 8 years of service. During this time 5 were lost to accidents, although these incidents did not suffer any loss of life.

Four waves each consisting of six retiring F-16s have been received at AMARG, two in 2010 and two in 2012. A summary of these arrivals can be seen below;

PCN US Serial Italian Serial Type CN Unit Arrival Date
AAFG0691 78-0091 MM7267 F016B M22-32/61-394 Italian Air Force 24-JUN-2010
AAFG0692 79-0412 MM7266 F016B M22-31/61-394 Italian Air Force 24-JUN-2010
AAFG0689 81-0713 MM7264 F016A M22-29/61-394 Italian Air Force 24-JUN-2010
AAFG0693 81-0764 MM7265 F016A M22-30/61-394 Italian Air Force 24-JUN-2010
AAFG0690 81-0771 MM7250 F016A M22-15/61-452 Italian Air Force 24-JUN-2010
AAFG0694 82-1014 MM7243 F016A M22-8/61-607 Italian Air Force 24-JUN-2010
AAFG0725 80-0559 MM7256 F016B M22-21/61-280 Italian Air Force 29-JUL-2010
AAFG0723 80-0622 MM7248 F016B M22-13/61-343 Italian Air Force 29-JUL-2010
AAFG0726 81-0693 MM7252 F016A M22-17/61-374 Italian Air Force 29-JUL-2010
AAFG0727 82-0942 MM7255 F016A M22-20/61-535 Italian Air Force 29-JUL-2010
AAFG0729 82-0997 MM7260 F016A M22-25/61-590 Italian Air Force 29-JUL-2010
AAFG0724 82-1001 MM7261 F016A M22-26/61-594 Italian Air Force 29-JUL-2010
  81-0699 MM7249 F016A M22-14/61-380 Italian Air Force 11-MAY-2012
  81-0728 MM7257 F016A M22-22/61-409 Italian Air Force 11-MAY-2012
  81-0772 MM7241 F016A M22-6/61-453 Italian Air Force 11-MAY-2012
  82-0913 MM7254 F016A M22-19/61-506 Italian Air Force 11-MAY-2012
  82-0984 MM7259 F016A M22-24/61-577 Italian Air Force 11-MAY-2012
  82-1005 MM7262 F016A M22-27/61-598 Italian Air Force 11-MAY-2012
  80-0565 MM7236 F016A M22-1/61-286 Italian Air Force 01-JUN-2012
  81-0680 MM7239 F016A M22-4/61-361 Italian Air Force 01-JUN-2012
  81-0811 MM7253 F016A M22-18/61-492 Italian Air Force 01-JUN-2012
  82-0972 MM7242 F016A M22-7/61-565 Italian Air Force 01-JUN-2012
  82-1019 MM7244 F016A M22-9/61-612 Italian Air Force 01-JUN-2012
  82-1049 MM7268 F016B M23-3/62-115 Italian Air Force 01-JUN-2012

24 record(s)

For completeness here are the fates of the other 15 Peace Caesar F-16;

Italian Serial US Serial Type CN Fate
MM7237 80-0581 F016A M22-2/61-302 Crashed near Trapani on 26-JAN-2004.
MM7238 80-0615 F016A M22-3/61-336 Crashed near Ravenna on 11-FEB-2010.
MM7240 81-0722 F016A M22-5/61-403 Probably stored in Italy.
MM7245 82-1021 F016A M22-10/61-614 Preserved at Aviano Air Base.
MM7246 82-1023 F016A M22-11/61-616 Crashed near Capo Carbonara on 22-MAY-2006.
MM7247 80-0604 F016A M22-12/61-325 Crashed near Sicilia on 11-FEB-2008.
MM7251 81-0801 F016A M22-16/61-482 Probably stored in Italy.
MM7258 82-0969 F016A M22-23/61-562 Crashed at Trapani on 05-NOV-2007.
MM7263 80-0616 F016A M22-28/61-337 Crashed near Capo Carbonara on 22-MAY-2006.
MM7269 79-0431 F016B M23-4/62-63 Probably stored in Italy.

 

Spares Aircraft

 

  79-0389    61-174 Unknown
  80-0474   61-195 Unknown
  80-0515   61-236 Unknown

 

Comments  

 
#3 Roberto postmater@vmas.it  2015-08-31 18:39
Some update for the F-16 remained in Italy :

MM7251 (81-0801)finall y arrived at ItAF Museum at Vigna di Valle (Rome)

MM7269 (79-0431) refurbished at Cervia as gate-guardian; exposed with the wrong MM 7268.

All the spare aircraft sold for scrap, only one maybe will be restored by an association of aircraft wreck finders in Cervia area.
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#2 Mike Hoffman emh58@cox.net  2014-09-27 00:44
Had the honor of catching these birds upon their return to amarg. It was then that I learned their story.
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#1 Roberto webmaster.vmas@tin.it  2014-02-12 07:39
some clarification about the F-16 remained in Italy.
MM7240 (81-0772) Special Colour for the 18° Gruppo; to be transformed in Gate Guardian at Trapani-Birgi airport still in special colur livery.
MM7251 (81-0801) at the ItAF Museum; actually under refurbishment and the display is scheduled at the end of this month
MM7269 (79-0431) grounded in 2010 for severe corrosion problems. At 2012 still stored at Trapani-Borgi airport. No more info.
More infos and pictures at www.vmas.it/velivoli/F-16/VMAS_F-16_index.html

Roberto Zambon
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